Last weekend we attended a little pumpkin carving party for the kids. There were probably about 8 kids there, ranging from 3 months to 14 years of age. The kids had a lot of fun, but I found it.... interesting (to put it nicely), that a couple of parents were allowing their 2, 3, and 5 year old children to drink soda the whole time that they were there.
Now, I'm not about to criticize these parents for allowing their young children to drink soda, that's their choice. I personally don't agree with it, but I'm not going to chastise other parents for it. But what I was amazed at was that these were the same parents who were complaining a few weeks before about how "wild" the kids act (they were three little girls), and how difficult it is to get them to bed at night. One little girl as been known to stay up past 11, finally crashing from exhaustion on her bedroom floor. Well now I understand what is causing these difficulties! If you are allowing your child to drink soda (and eat Halloween candy) at 7:30 at night, then yes, you are going to have a hard time putting them to bed. Duh!
We happen to not allow any of the boys to drink soda or eat candy, unless on special occasions, like Halloween, but then it is limited. And this is mainly because of the effect that I have noticed it has on them, Owen specifically. I have noticed that whenever Owen has cookies, or cake, or candy, he, obviously, behaves completely different. He gets hyper and has a hard time following directions or focusing on what I am trying to say to him. He just wants to act like a crazy boy. Therefore, for my sanity, I have made the decision not to offer these things regularly in my house. If he goes to a friend's house and has something there, then that's fine. I'm not going to go ballistic over it, but I can definitely tell when he HAS had something sweet to eat somewhere else.
The same applies to watching television. I am not one of those parents who is completely against television and is adamant that my child will not watch any TV until he is at least 2. (I have been known in the past to use "Little Bear" as a babysitter for Owen while I was making dinner. He was definitely under 2 years of age, but it kept him entertained and out of my hair long enough to get dinner ready). I do feel that there are some quality children's shows out there with great educational lessons. (Owen has learned his shapes, some Spanish, directions, and the difference between plastic, glass, metal etc. from watching TV). I have also allowed him to watch a movie during rest time on the days that I know he will not take an actual nap. However, I do try to limit how much television Owen watches during the day, but this is primarily because of how it effects his behavior.
I have noticed that on the (usually rainy) days when Owen has been watching tv for at least an hour, he is less cooperative, less likely to follow directions, and more whiny than on the days when he hasn't watched any. So again, for my sanity, while I can still control what he does, I try to limit what he watches.
Now, I don't know if this has the same effect on all kids or if it's just Owen, but when I hear these parents complaining about how their kids behave or how hard it is for them to go to bed at night, and then learn that they watch TV all day, drink soda, and basically eat whatever they want, I really have to wonder if these parents have even considered that this might be at the root of their problems. Last year we attended a Christmas party and there were two brothers there who were a few years older than Owen, and kept bullying him. They chased him around, cornered him against a wall, and started hitting him. Naturally, he fell to the ground to try to get away from them, but then they proceeded to kick him! (Don't worry, I didn't just stand by and watch this all happen. But all of this happened in the time that it took me to get from one end of the room to the other to stop it from continuing).
After this incident occurred (which the boys did not even get punished for, other than a "strong word", nor were they made to apologize to Owen), I overheard their mother telling someone that one of the boys was being tested for ADHD soon. Really? Could his problem actually be the lack of discipline and all of the sugar that he consumes on a regular basis rather than ADHD? (We are familiar with this family because Daddio works with the husband, so I'm not just basing this on the incident at the party). It drives me nuts when parents automatically assume that their child must have ADHD if they are in any way unruly or difficult to control. Take a look at your parenting skills, folks, and then tell me why you think your child is unruly! If there's no discipline, then there's not going to be any control!
Anyway, that was my rant for today. Carry on.
*After re-reading this post, I realize that I basically AM criticizing these parents. What my actual point is that if you are going to allow your child to drink soda or eat sugary candy, especially at night, then be prepared to deal with the consequences, or at least be aware of the effect it will have on your child, and stop complaining about it. With children this young, the parents are the ones who SHOULD still have the say in what the drink or eat, so if you're giving your child something that will in fact cause them to act unruly, then that's your own fault, not your child's.
Now I'm done.